There are plenty of people within the industry who don’t have a full understanding of what PR really means or what it can do for your business, and unfortunately a good number of them are currently responsible for PR! As you can imagine, this situation is far from ideal, so let’s start this week with a look at the true meaning of PR.

According to Wikipedia, PR is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or organization and the public. This can be done by using the news or business press to carry positive stories about your company or your products, mainly by cultivating a good relationship with local press representatives.

As member of the media myself, I have direct contact with PR people and I can tell you that sometimes your hotel PR staff don’t spread enough positive stories, and some don’t even spread any stories at all!

I reached out to Stephanie Anantachotkakul, PR Manager for JW Marriott Bangkok, Courtyard Bangkok and Renaissance Samui for comments, since she is busy taking care of three properties but never fails to stay in touch with the media: “I’m supporting each department in three hotels so you can imagine how long my daily ‘to-do list’ can be. In a nutshell it basically includes monitoring news and press releases, profiling, reeling in media and supervising media visits, but more importantly it’s about engaging with the media on a constant basis, building relationships, nurturing partnerships, networking for business and engaging in projects or campaigns.”

What is the overall goal of a hotel’s PR department?

Apart from crisis management, strategic planning and media relations, the ultimate goal of PR is to drive sales.

For me, the goal of PR is to drive brand awareness that directs people to my hotel website to make bookings directly with our hotel,” said Bobbie-Jane Skewes, Group Director of Sales and Marketing of Manathai Hotels & Resorts.

Stephanie commented further: “I personally believe that in my line of work I represent, promote and preserve, and inspire my guests and my associates. It’s about being knowledgeable and effective regarding everything about the property and what we, as a company, stand for and continue to strive towards.

PR staff can meet thousands of people and find hundred of contacts but if they don’t bring value to your hotels, it won’t mean anything. Therefore PR isn’t just about knowing a lot of people and being seen at every networking event, unless these are relevant to our industry and help in opening new business opportunities.

What makes a successful PR person?

Driving massive exposure across every media channel and pumping out news too often are not going to make you a successful PR person.

It is far more important to deliver your brand strategy to your target market; it should all be aimed at supporting the goals and direction of the hotel.

Loyalty to the brand and international contacts are another factor to becoming successful in PR: “We are selling hotel rooms, not afternoon tea, so we need to ensure that our PR people have the connections in our key feeder markets … and avoid being seen as the local socialite, being at the opening of an envelope, being the local party girl or guy,” said Bobbie-Jane.

Being a social king or queen isn’t the same as being a PR person, but this is what I have seen a lot of PR people doing. PR people who get their job description confused with that of Event Manager & Social Affairs should not be hired to do a PR job; clearly they don’t know what they are doing..